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Union Street to keep liquor license controls

The Union Street Neighborhood Comm-ercial District (NCD) runs the length of Union Street from Steiner Street to Van Ness Avenue, and along Fillmore Street from Union to Lombard Streets. Established in 1987, a major provision was its limit on the number of alcoholic beverage licenses allowed within the district.

With a shift toward food and drink facilities being integral components of a thriving neighborhood, and a flagging economy that resulted in numerous empty storefronts on Union Street, Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier helped pass legislation in 2009 that allowed the addition of up to 12 new full-service restaurants within the NCD. The legislation led to what many feel was a revitalization of Union Street, filling several empty storefronts with popular new dining establishments while still limiting the total number of drinking venues.

In April of this year, legislation was passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors to simplify the City’s classifications for food and drink establishments from 13 to 3, helping to clarify what had become stifling and confusing rules for restaurant operations. One major simplification, however, permits any bona fide eating establishment (where at least 51 percent of gross receipts come from the sale of food) to apply for a license to sell beer, wine and distilled spirits.

District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell noted, “The legislation was supposed to keep key neighborhood controls in place, but had unintended consequences in the Union Street Neighborhood Commercial District by allowing more restaurants to apply for alcoholic beverage licenses, thus eliminating the controls in place that both the neighbors and merchants worked together on years ago.”

To remedy the situation, Supervisor Farrell has introduced an amendment to the planning code to reinstate the alcoholic beverage license and restaurants controls that previously existed in the Union Street NCD.

“Union Street is enjoying a nice balance of restaurants, bars, retail, and office space,” said Farrell. “Both the Golden Gate Valley Neighborhood Association and the Union Street Merchants Association are in favor of the legislation and have been working together with my office to see that it gets passed.”

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